As the end of May is fast approaching, the spring innuendo of changing weather and slow growth has suddenly transformed into a loud explosion of new life, bringing a heat wave and what sounds like a blather of birds, buzzing insects and – occasionally, due to COVID19 – people passing by with their dogs. In my backyard, mowing grass, transplanting young plants and sowing seed is now going on almost non-stop, but those are just some of the tasks for us humans; the Flora and Fauna in this microsystem of Mother Nature’s bosom have been pretty active, as well.
Two years ago, a family of robins built a nest on a light fixture outside the garage; last spring there were no robin nests in the backyard, but this year, another couple came to exactly the same spot. At the beginning of the month, some eggs hatched, and by mid month, the chicks had grown enough to peek over the edge of the nest. In the photo below, left, mama robin is seen carefully feeding two hungry chicks; they became quite vocal, and were ready to leave the nest in no time (photo below, centre). It was really interetsing that, a few days after the nest was emptied, a pair of sparrows dropped by to check out the premises (photo below, right). My husband says that he saw a robin flying by and scaring the sparrows away, so now the nest remains there, empty.
Some bugs have also started their spring rituals; I have mentioned some beneficial insects that frequent my backyard, such as ladybugs and wasps, as well as some pests, including the asparagus beetle. These beetles are black and red, some with stripes, and others are spotted; in the photo below, a common asparagus beetle (Crioceris asparagi) :
Asparagus is one of my earliest crops; after harvesting the spears for several weeks, the plants must be allowed to grow, so they may store energy for next year’s crop. The spears quickly grow and develop into fronds:
Asparagus beetles must be controlled because after the adults emerge from hibernation, they promptly mate and deposit eggs on the spears, buds and leaves, as seen below:
Both the adults and their larvae will feed on the fronds for a few weeks, weakening the plants, which in turn are not able to store enough energy for next year’s growth and could even die. These beetles have a very short life cycle, and once the larvae drop to the ground and pupate, the cycle starts again, all throughout the summer, repeating between two and three times. I will be cleaning my asparagus plants twice a day, dropping the adults and larvae in a bucket of soapy water, and removing eggs; hopefully the wasps and spiders will show up at some point to help me with this pest.
Moving on to a happier note, now that the spring bulbs have faded, I am starting to see irises flowering and lilies growing. The crabapple tree went from budding (photo at the top of this post from May 13), to full bloom, really fast:
The sight of these trees in bloom is a definitive sign of the warm weather season around here:
The heat wave has made me think of Mexico, and how the natural scene might be looking right now. Many people might say that Mexico City only has one season (perfect weather!) but there are some subtle changes throughout the year. A beautiful example in spring is the blooming season of the jacaranda tree (Jacaranda mimosifolia):
And some people might say that Culiacan, in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, where my sister lives, only has two seasons (hot and really hot, LOL), but that allows the state to have an eight-month-long tomato season, and my sister to grow basil as a perennial in her patio. In the photos below, just to put things into perspective, my sister’s basil plant, followed by my recently transplanted basil seedlings:
I am linking to Cee’s Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge for May 26, 2020.